Report: Red Sox to deal Payton for Bradford

Updated: July 8, 2005, 11:53 AM ET news services

BOSTON -- Struggling Red Sox closer Keith Foulke had arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage on his left knee Thursday, the latest development impacting Boston's ineffective bullpen.

The Red Sox designated outfielder Jay Payton for assignment, activated outfielder Adam Stern from the 60-day disabled list, sent left-hander Lenny DiNardo to Triple-A Pawtucket and traded Ramon Vazquez to Cleveland for Alex Cora in a deal involving utility infielders.

The Providence Journal reported Thursday night that the Red Sox have a deal in place to trade Payton to the Oakland Athletics for reliever Chad Bradford. According to the paper, the deal can't be announced until the All-Star break because Bradford is on the disabled list and has to be activated first.

In an interview Friday morning on WEEI-AM in Boston, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein confirmed that the team had a deal in place for Payton, but would not disclose details.

Foulke will begin rehabilitation immediately, and team doctor Thomas Gill said recovery from this type of surgery typically takes about six weeks.

"Everything went well. We need to let him get ready," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We don't want him to come back too early, so he can come back and pitch when he's supposed to."

The moves took place just hours before staff ace Curt Schilling was to pitch in relief for Triple-A Pawtucket with an eye toward joining Boston's bullpen. Schilling, on the disabled list since April 29 with an ankle injury, struggled as a starter in his last rehab outing for Pawtucket.

Epstein has called Schilling's move to the bullpen "short term."

Foulke went on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. In his absence, the Red Sox could use Schilling, Mike Timlin and Alan Embree as closers. Timlin got the save Tuesday in Texas, and Embree earned one Wednesday against the Rangers.

In the past week, the Red Sox recalled Abe Alvarez from Pawtucket but then sent him back when they called up Jeremi Gonzalez and Lenny DiNardo. On Wednesday, Scott Cassidy was promoted from Pawtucket.

Foulke, outstanding in last year's AL Championship Series and World Series, has struggled all season. He is 5-5 with a 6.23 ERA and 15 saves in 19 opportunities. In his last outing, Texas scored twice in the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory Monday, giving Foulke his second blown save in a week.

Last year, he was 5-3 with a 2.17 ERA and 32 saves in 39 chances. In the World Series sweep of St. Louis for Boston's first championship in 86 years, Foulke pitched in all four games -- earning a win and a save while allowing one run and four hits in five innings.

Payton and Vazquez were acquired last Dec. 20 from San Diego and neither was happy with his playing time. Payton, who started the past two seasons, batted .263 with five homers and 21 RBI in 133 at-bats over 55 games. He also has played for the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies.

"Jay was a valuable part of our club, but he just couldn't handle his role here," Francona said. "Last night he said, 'I tried, I couldn't do it.' It was time for him to move on."

Epstein told WEEI-AM the team made the move after a run-in between Payton and Francona during Wednesday night's game in Texas.

Epstein said Payton was taken off the team plane and put up in a hotel after the run-in prompted the decision. "He was not getting on that flight," he said. "It's not going to be tolerated here."

Vazquez had just 61 at-bats in 27 games, batting .197, before being sent to Pawtucket on Sunday.

Cora, who plays second base and shortstop, is batting .205 in 146 at bats with Cleveland. In each of the last five seasons, Cora played at least 100 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stern, 25, has great speed and is a strong defensive player but he fractured his right thumb while sliding into second base on March 5 during a spring training game. In 18 games with Pawtucket, he hit .303 with two homers and 14 RBI.

Under the Rule 5 draft in which the Red Sox selected Stern from Atlanta, Boston had to return him to the Braves if he wasn't promoted to the major leagues by next Tuesday.

"He has a strong arm, he knows how to throw," Francona said. "He moves good in the outfield, plays all three positions and can do really good defensively. He's a very good baserunner with good speed. Offensively, he's been a good minor league hitter."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.